A leading day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 4 - 13 yrs set in the idyllic North Norfolk Coast
 

The beginning

Beeston Hall began life in the ownership of the Cremer family and continued until 1924, when they moved to Felbrigg, subsequently gifted to the National Trust by Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer (whom the present Headmaster ‘met’ as a three-year-old!) The small pond at the front is the only remaining evidence of damage caused by a German bomb, in 1940, dropped by a Junkers 88, limping home after a raid and crashing not far away on West Runton beach. The house was then the property of Flying Officer Richard Ketton-Cremer (the squire’s younger brother) who was killed in active service in 1941.

1948 – 1960

The house remained empty until 1948, when Mr Thomas Tapping set up his school, springing from his headmastership of ‘The Sanctuary School’ in Little Walsingham, which, in turn, had derived from the 1939 evacuation of boys from Quainton Hall School. Tapping and his wife ran Beeston from 1948 until 1958 when, no longer a fit man, he decided to put the school on the market. In 1959 the ‘for sale’ notice in the Times Educational Supplement caught the eye of Martin Swindells. The majority of prep schools in those days were privately owned and buying was an expensive business, but Beeston was for sale ‘leasehold’ and therefore an interesting possibility. Martin Swindells and his wife, Peggy, took over the running of the school in 1960. Even before arriving, the Swindells’ objective was to turn the school into a non-profit making charitable trust but, in 1960, Beeston did not meet the necessary criteria. At that time, physically, the school was almost entirely undeveloped and remained essentially a country house and garden.

1967 – 1978

Following improvements to both pupil numbers and the school’s facilities, on July 17th, 1967 the school became an Incorporated Trust. Following this, Mr. Ketton-Cremer’s death, and gift of Felbrigg to the National Trust, meant tenants of the rest of the estate were given the opportunity to acquire the freehold of their property. In this way the Trust acquired Beeston Hall.

In the early 70’s the wind of liberalism was sweeping through the prep. school world and a few avant-garde IAPS schools went co-ed. In 1975 the first girl Beestonians entered the school and the first boarding places for girls were available from 1978.

1986 – 2009

In 1986 the Swindells retired and John Elder was appointed Headmaster. Under the leadership of John and his wife, Hanneke, Beeston flourished and in 1998 Beeston’s fourth Headmaster, Innes MacAskill, took over the reins.  He and his wife, Sandy, continued to take Beeston forward to the point where it became one of the top prep schools in the country. In 2009 Robin Gainher, arrived at Beeston from Cranleigh Prep.  Robin and his wife, Ali, quickly began to make their mark and build on the success of their predecessors across all areas of the school.

2016

In September 2016 Fred de Falbe and his wife Juliet were appointed to begin a new chapter in the school’s history, which began with the launching of the Beeston Foundation, a year later, and commissioning a 25-year master plan. Beeston Hall today is unrecognisable from those early days of the 60’s and the school has more than fulfilled Robert Ketton-Cremer’s wishes for its future prosperity. Beeston’s Pre-Prep opened its doors in 2016 and includes purpose built classrooms, a separate outside play and learning area, with the opportunity to explore the whole Beeston campus and our much-loved woods. All at Beeston know how lucky they are, and are bound by this and a common loyalty toward it and its community. 30% of the parent body are OBs; many Old Beestonians have forged fascinating and successful careers, based on the grounding they received at Beeston. There are three OBs on the governing board and OBs continue to visit often, looking for the ‘huts’ of yesteryear in vain, but always sharing memories with us.

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